By Bill Armistead
Alabama Republican Party Chairman
Now that the election is a few weeks behind us and we are into the Holiday season, I have had some time to reflect on the Presidential election. Clearly, we are all disappointed in the outcome, but out of disappointment come learning, understanding and a path forward.
In Alabama, we did our part. We gave Governor Romney his sixth highest margin in the nation. In fact, only Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Idaho and West Virginia gave Governor Romney a higher vote percentage. We also saw a significant increase in Republican Presidential vote percentages in almost all of our targeted counties. Governor Romney won 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties and received over 80% of the vote in 7 counties and over 70% of the vote in 25 counties. For those keeping score at home, Blount County had the highest percentage for Governor Romney with 86.5% followed by Winston County at 85.6% and Cullman County at 84.2%.
Age demographics changed the field this past Presidential election cycle. We all knew President Obama would carry the youth vote again, but surprisingly he only received 60% compared to 66% in 2008. However in 2012, the youth vote, voters aged 18-29, made up 19% compared to 18% in 2008. Thus Obama still received more raw votes from the youth than he did in 2008.
Race demographics also played a large role in shaping this Presidential election. In 2008, Obama received 43% of Caucasian votes, but this year that shrunk to 39%. At the same time, the overall makeup of the electorate changed from 74% Caucasian to 72%. The shrinking Caucasian population is due to an increase in Hispanic voters.
Obama won 67% of Hispanic voters in 2008, but increased that to 71% this year. The increase in Hispanic voters and the increase in Obama’s margin with this demographic was a leading cause of Obama’s victories in Colorado, Florida and Nevada.
Political ideology also played a role in shaping this election. In 2008 34% of voters considered themselves ‘conservatives’, in 2012, that percentage was 35%. In 2008 22% of voters considered themselves ‘liberal’, in 2012 that percentage was up to 25%.
According to a Pew Research Study with initial analysis of the electorate released Wednesday November 7th, Evangelical voters made up 24% of the electorate and that is up 1% from 2008. Evangelical voters also broke more heavily for Romney than Obama with Romney’s margin being 58% in 2012 compared to 46% for McCain in 2008.
In the past 3 weeks there have been countless opinion pieces written in the New York Times and the Washington Post and there have been numerous talking heads on the news channels all saying the same thing, that the Republican Party has some soul searching to do. I disagree with them 100%.
For Republicans to win at the national level, we do not have to compromise our principles and our values. We do not have to become Democrat-lite. We must stand true to our principles and do a better job explaining them to voters.
The statistics and demographics of the 2012 Presidential Election show that the current electorate of American politics has changed. It is no longer filled with the type of voters that elected Roosevelt, Nixon and Reagan.
This election has shown me that even though we did all we could in Alabama to elect Mitt Romney President, we must double down on some important elements of our Party here in Alabama to be better prepared for future elections.
In Alabama we have a strong and active Federation of Republican Women. We have a growing Minority GOP which has been organized by African American Republicans to perform outreach in that community. We have also begun an outreach to Hispanic voters which you will be hearing more about in the near future. We have some of the largest College Republican clubs in the nation and the national chairman of the College Republicans is a former Alabama Chairman. Our Young Republican clubs are also some of the most active and growing in the nation and that is why Alabama has been chosen to host the upcoming National Young Republican Convention. We also have a tremendous organization that is just forming now of Teenage Republicans with dedicated club organizers around the state.
Here in Alabama we have all the tools we need to help the next Republican candidate for President carry Alabama, but more importantly, if we rededicate our efforts and attention to growing these auxiliary arms of the ALGOP into truly self sufficient organization on their own right, Alabama can show the nation a path forward for the Republican Party.